New JD Wetherspoon hotel/bar for Welwyn Garden City recommended for refusal
A plan to build a new JD Wetherspoon hotel in Welwyn Garden City has been recommended for refusal by the council’s development management committee.
The site, at 22 Parkway, is currently a vacant office block with a car park, but applicant JD Wetherspoon wants to turn it into a pub and hotel with 13 guest rooms.
To build the hotel a rear extension would have to be added to the existing building to accommodate a beer garden and terrace, as well as a kitchen, toilet and cellar to serve the bar, lounge and dining area located towards the front of the existing building.
The committee stated that the extention represents a “very significant increase in the footprint and bulk of the building”, which represents a “significant overdevelopment” of the site that “fails to reflect its surroundings”.
They also expressed concern about the effect the pub would have on neighbours, with people coming and going late at night and in the early hours of the morning.
The council received over 300 representations in response to the planning application, with more than 200 people objecting. Residents expressed concerns about the lack of on-site parking, congestion caused by delivery lorries, noise disturbance, antisocial behaviour, cooking fumes and people smoking outside the pub.
There were also concerns that the development would harm views in a number of directions and spoil people’s enjoyment of the adjacent memorial gardens.
The Welwyn Garden City Society said: “The row of buildings from 8 to 22 Parkway forms one of the most important vistas in the town. The proposal will spoil this vitally important vista.
“The design does not respect the character and setting in the Conservation Area. If this application is approved, it will set a precedent for all buildings on the west side of Parkway to convert to retail or entertainment. To allow the retail core to begin to creep across Parkway would dilute the essence of town centre.”
Some residents, however, argued in favour of the pub, saying that it will provide jobs in the town and that WGC does not currently have enough to attract people to do in the evenings.
The development management committee will meet on Thursday, November 8 to discuss the proposal.